PEPPER, in natural history, an aroma tic berry, of a hot dry quality, chiefly used in seasoning. See PIPER.
We have three kinds of pepper at this time in use in the shops ; the black, the white, and the long pepper.
Black pepper is the fruit of a plant of the Diandria Trigynia class, without any flower petals ; the fruit itself is roundish and rugose, and disposed in clusters : it is brought from the Dutch settlements in the East Indies.
The common white pepper is factitious, being prepared from the black in the fol lowing manner : they steep this in sea water, exposed to the heat of the sun for several days, till the rind or outer bark loosens; they then take it out, and when it is half dry, rub it till the rind falls off; then they dry the white fruit, and the re mains of the rind blow away like chaff A great deal of the heat of the pepper is taken off by this process ; so that the white kind is fitter for many purposes than the black. However, there is a
sort of native white pepper, produced on a species of the same plant, which is much better than the factitious, and indeed lit tle inferior to the black.
The long pepper is a dried fruit of an inch, or an inch and a half in length, and about the thickness of a large goose quill : it is of a brownish-grey colour, cylindrical in figure, and said to be produced on a plant of the same genus.
Pepper is principally used by us in food, to assist digestion ; hut the people in the East Indies esteem it as a stomachic, and drink a strong infusion of it in water by way of giving them an appetite : they have also a way of making a fiery spirit of fermented fresh pepper with water, which they use fur the same purpose. They have also a way of preserving the common and long pepper in vinegar, and eating them afterwards at meals.